Patrick Harvie has accused Fergus Ewing of supporting "practices that amount to torture" after the veteran MSP raised concerns over Scottish Government plans to ban conversion therapy.

The Minister for Zero Carbon Buildings, Active Travel and Tenants' Rights said he was not surprised that the backbencher had concerns with the proposed legislation as he had “voted against LGBT people's equality and human rights on pretty much every occasion that it's ever come up since the parliament sat in 1999.”

A source close to Mr Ewing said it was "absurd" to suggest he supported torture. 

READ MORE: Proposals to ban conversion therapy published by Scottish Government

Details of the ban on conversion practices ban was announced on Tuesday, with a public consultation set to run until April.

The central proposal is for a new criminal offence of engaging in conversion practice “whether that is provided by a healthcare practitioner, a family member or a religious leader”.

Any action designed to “change or suppress” another individual’s gender identity or sexuality would become illegal.


This could include therapy or counselling, prescribing medication, controlling a person’s activities and appearance or continuously threatening or humiliating someone.

One possible punishment suggested by the government for anyone convicted of is "imprisonment for a term not exceeding seven years."

There have been some concerns from religious organisations. 

The Catholic Church said there was a "worrying lack of clarity" about the term "conversion practices" and could lead to people giving advice to children "in good faith" being criminalised.

Writing in his local paper, The Strathspey and Badenoch Herald, Mr Ewing raised their concern over the policy.

“Already several voices in the Churches have expressed their concern about this: Concern that it will inevitably impair and impinge upon parental rights. And not only of parents but possibly also teachers, doctors and men and women of the cloth too.

“Remember that it was the concerns of most parents that led to the demise of the doomed ‘named person’ plan. I did not come across any parents who were happy about the prospect of some third party having power - unclear and unspecified power at that - over their own children.”

READ MORE: What is conversion therapy? Explained in five minutes

A ban on conversion therapy was included in the Bute House Agreement reached between the SNP and the Scottish Greens in 2021.

Asked about Mr Ewing’s concerns during an interview with the BBC’s Good Morning Scotland, Mr Harvie said the SNP MSP had "voted against LGBT people's equality and human rights on pretty much every occasion that it's ever come up since the parliament sat in 1999."

He added: "He's been an MSP all that time and I don't remember any single issue of LGBT people's equality and human rights where Fergus Ewing has been on the right side of history.

"So I'm not going to pretend to be surprised that he supports the continuation of abusive and in some cases, practices that amount to torture.

"It's really clear that there's a strong cross-party political support for the ban on conversion practices.

"The Parliament has heard harrowing evidence from survivors about the impact on their lives on their mental health and their well-being. Basically, it should be a given that Scotland is going to join the increasing list of countries that have already passed legislation."

Mr Ewing declined to comment.

A source close to the MSP said it was “absurd” to suggest he supported torture.